Apparently, a team of researchers under Dr. Henrik Ehrsson of University College London have been able to induce out-of-body experiences (OBEs) in subjects using virtual reality simulations.
When I first saw the headline of the BBC article on this study, I thought it might have to do with subjects imbibing a drug or some sort of electronic stimulation of some portion of the brain. But it turns out that by simply using twin cameras trained on the subject with the video fed into virtual reality goggles the subjects were wearing to create a stereoscopic effect while running a plastic rod (or pen according to the BBC) down the subject’s chest and another in the place where the virtual representation of the participant’s would be was enough to induce an out-of-body experience.
I find this to be interesting because it shows that our senses are not tightly integrated into each other. Your sense of sight and touch can disagree on what is happening and you can still have a coherent perception of reality (even if that perception is incorrect).
According to Ehrsson, this study may open the door for virtual surgeries and for more realistic video gaming. It will be interesting to see what new developments result from this. It seems that the greater we know about the mind, the stranger it seems.